Doctor Strange nearly came to Disney+ in 2021.
WandaVision arrived like a balm to soothe the ache of comic book franchise fans reeling from a 2020 without a single new entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the ongoing pandemic pushed release dates for theatrical features Black Widow, Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings, and The Eternals into 2021, and interrupted the filming of TV's The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
The first Disney+ series tied directly to the MCU quickly became appointment television, with dozens of fan theory videos popping up on YouTube each week as viewers tried to decipher the show's many mysteries. Major speculation surrounded a big cameo teased by Paul Bettany, aka The Vision, which turned out to be a jokey reference to his own dual performances as separate versions of his synthezoid character. But the fans who predicted Benedict Cumberbatch would show up as Doctor Strange in the season's final episode have now been vindicated, thanks to a brand new interview with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige.
Audiences knew Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff would be a key component of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ever since details of the Doctor Strange sequel were announced at 2019's San Diego Comic Con. Picking up after the events of Avengers: Endgame, WandaVision saw Olsen's heroine fully evolve into her comic book alter-ego, The Scarlet Witch, with expanding magical abilities, and the revelation that her powers manifested long before her Hydra-guided encounter with an infinity stone.
The latest issue of Rolling Stone includes an in-depth article about the making of WandaVision. Speaking with longtime journalist Brian Hiatt, Feige revealed how Marvel's shifting plans for the Bleeker Street Magician in WandaVision caused rewrites for both the series and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
The mysterious "commercials" for fictional products like Toast Mate, the Strücker Watch, and Hydra Soak were initially intended as messages to Wanda from Strange, as the good Doctor tried to pierce her illusionary sitcom reality. Marvel even finalized a deal with Cumberbatch to appear in the season's final episode.
Explaining the late-stage rewrite, Feige told Rolling Stone:
"Some people might say, 'Oh, it would've been so cool to see Doctor Strange. But It would have taken away from Wanda. We didn't want the end of the show to be commoditized to go to the next movie - here's the white guy, 'Let me show you how power works."
This meant a rewrite for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, as well. Feige described Marvel's overall process as:
"[A] wonderful combination of very dedicated coordination, and chaos. Chaos magic."
Elsewhere, the Marvel Studios mastermind revealed how he initially conceived of the WandaVision's sitcom-oriented premise. The article details how Marvel executive Mary Livanos recruited Black Widow and Captain Marvel cowriter Jac Schaeffer, who greatly expanded on Feige's ideas.
In addition to interviews with the folks behind-the-scenes, the article features new quotes from Olsen, Bettany (who jokingly compares the version of his character in WandaVision to Kelly LeBrock in 1985's Weird Science), Kathryn Hahn (Agatha Harkness), and Teyonah Parris (Monica Rambeau).
Secrets of WandaVision appears in the May 2021 print-edition of Rolling Stone, featuring comedian Issa Rae on the cover.